Due to the migratory nature of sea turtles, it is important to have uniform international legislation, protecting them regardless of geographical boundaries:
- The CITES Convention prohibits the international trade of sea turtles
- The Bonn Convention (also known as CMS) for the conservation of migratory species of wild animals, requires that the Contracting Parties (countries) ensure the protection of sea turtles and their habitats.
- The Convention on Biological Diversity does not make specific reference to sea turtles but its provisions for habitat protection mechanisms to conserve biological diversity on both national and regional level, relate to sea turtle habitats protection.
In addition to international conventions, it is also important to have regional instruments, as every region has specific particularities concerning the conservation of species.
In the Mediterranean region, three regional frameworks apply:
- Mediterranean countries that belong to the European Union (EU), need to apply the following EU legislation that protects sea turtles:
- The Habitats Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. The Natura 2000 network of protected areas to implement the Directive.
- The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020
EU legislation is especially important as failure of members states to comply can lead to infringement processes and penalties.
- The Bern Conventionfor the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats, requires that the Contracting Parties (EU countries and several non-EU countries) ensure the protection of sea turtles and their habitats. This is a unique Convention as it allows conservationists to directly complain about a country’s failure to comply.
- At the Mediterranean level, commitment and cooperation among all Mediterranean countries to protect sea turtles and their habitats is stipulated via:
- The Barcelona Convention for the protection of the marine environment and the coastal region of the Mediterranean.
- The Protocol for the specially protected areas and the Action Plan for the conservation of marine turtles.
Mediterranean countries have adopted national laws and policies to implement the international instruments protecting sea turtles, including:
- Environment and Biodiversity laws, strategies and action plans
- Fisheries laws and strategies
- National parks, protected areas, etc, laws and strategies